Friday, August 31, 2007

Heavenly Blue

Summer is complete - the Heavenly Blue morning glory is starting to bloom. This is the first one. It's so high up on the trellis that I had to stand on my tiptoes to get this picture. I think this is the quintessential morning glory. I know there's purple, pink, white, red, bi-colored, and even chocolate, but to me this China blue color is the essence of morning glories, much as fire-engine red is to geraniums. I'm a happy gardener.
At work today, the Neophyte Gardener mentioned that Lowe's has all their garden furniture at 75% off (she's no neophyte at finding bargains). That makes this $99.00, 3-person cushioned swing/lounge just $25.00. But I don't want it for three people, no sirree. This baby converts to a flat bed. I can just imagine lying on this comfy cushion idly swinging back and forth while I contemplate weeding or perhaps mowing.
I don't want the cover, or the frame. I just need the swing part to hang from the hooks already installed at the end of my patio. That means I need some chain, and maybe another hook since I think this swing is wider than the old wooden one. Which fell apart after I neglected to put it away for the winter (20 years in a row). And just how do I install a new hook into that beam in the roof? And I'm going to have to find a new spot for the gas barbecue. This is beginning to sound like a lot of work. But wait! It's Labor Day weekend so this is the perfect activity. Happy Labor Day chores to all of you!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Summer Killers and Red Cloud

Chuck B. at whoreticulture calls certain plants summer killers. When we see these, we know it's about over for the garden. Chuck is in California. In my Colorado garden Blue Mist spirea bursting into bloom is the first hint the lush days of summer are numbered.
But what strikes terror in my heart is Sweet Autumn clematis. Don't they look like little snowflakes?
Innocent looking, arent' they? I've actually been waiting three years for this plant to re-bloom. It used to cover the roof of a shed on the patio below, until a snowstorm flattened the shed. It broke my heart (and my back) to dig out and haul this 20-foot vine to its new home on the railing, hack it back to 12 inches tall and patiently wait through "first year they sleep, second year they creep, third year they leap". It's leaping.

Chuck's summer killer is fall-blooming anemone.
Look at that yellow eye, mocking the sunshiny days its very presence will bring to a close.
I'm not even picking the flowers in my garden for bouquets. I let them bloom while they can. Instead I found this rosy pink baby's breath at the grocery store for $4. Have you ever seen this? They're not the washed-out pink ones that grow in my garden - these colors range from light pink to a deep carmine. I looked it up on the Internet and it looks like a variety called Red Cloud. I really like it. That purple and green thing is a super shooter water gun that I bought to harrass the squirrels but it won't shoot. Darn. I have to take it back.
Even though it was 55 degrees when I left for work this morning, there were a bunch of garage sales. I was late to work. I found this gardenia for $1. I'm pretty sure the gardenia will be dead within a couple of weeks but I guess the pot is worth a dollar. You can't grow a gardenia in Colorado and I'm darned lucky this one had an open bloom. A couple of the buds are already brown, but there are two green ones that might (possibly) open. That's if I don't mist the leaves or touch the blossoms, keep it evenly moist, give it plenty of humidity (ha ha) and indirect sunlight, don't keep it too warm, and make sure there are no drafts. This gardenia is history.

But, oh, the scent! I've about sniffed all the goodness out of it. And look at those creamy white petals. Don't they look like little peaked snowdrifts?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Henry was no fool...

"Summer afternoon – Summer afternoon…the two most beautiful words in the English language."
Henry James
British (US-born) author (1843-1916)

After three evenings of rain, it was actually a little chilly tonight. If you can call 63 degrees chilly in the middle of summer. But it gave me a hint of what's to come, and I decided to look back at what was - last winter.

This is the large blue spruce in my front yard, note the neighbor's white SUV parked on the street in front of it...
Same tree last Christmas, big white lump to the side is neighbor's SUV.

The front bed yesterday.....
The front bed in December.

Steps leading down to the lower garden...
Those indentations in the snow are the steps in December.

Rocker on front porch....
Rocker on front porch at Christmas.

Front walk a couple of weeks ago...
Front walk at Christmas.

Wrought-iron railing above lower garden in June....
Wrought-iron railing last winter.

Terrace garden in August....
Terrace garden in December.

Adirondack chair in lower garden in June...
Adirondack chair in same spot at Christmas.

Guara lining driveway in July...
Guara under drifts of snow along driveway on a sunny day in December.

Rose of Sharon in August...
Rose of Sharon in December.
Looking east from my driveway toward neighbor's SUV...
Neighbor's SUV put to the test.
Faux Gloire de Dijon rose in streetside bed...
Tip of faux Gloire de Dijon poking up above drift.

Okay, that was a little frightening, wasn't it? Repeat after me, "Summer afternoon, summer afternoon"......

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Time to chop

The hollyhocks are done. See, there’s one lone pink one up at the top and the rest have all finished blooming and gone to seed. The leaves are all rusty and nasty looking.

Remember what it looked like before?

Now there’s a big bare spot, but maybe the liatris that I found under the hollyhock can have half a chance to grow. It’s survival of the fittest in the front bed. The amur maple was leaning on the hollyhock, and the hollyhock was shoving the Russian Sage out of the bed, so now equilibrium has been restored.

What remains of the giant hollyhock.

And speaking of giants, the common mullein grew 8 feet tall this summer. That doesn’t bode well for the coming winter. If local lore is to be believed, as the mullein grows, so goes the snow. Deer browse the tips of mullein during heavy snowfalls in the mountains and plains so the mullein must grow tall enough to stand above the winter’s snow. Actually we got blasted with snow this past winter and last year’s mullein only got about four feet tall. So much for that old folktale.

Here’s the mullein – the giant spire to the right of the arch. The finches picked all the seeds off the top, so like leftovers at the dinner table, I got rid of it.

Speaking of dinner, I finally got a tomato. Doesn’t look like I’ll have many more so I’m darned proud of this one. Especially considering I don’t really remember watering it more than a few times. It has those dark splits at the top but there’s enough juicy tomato below so that a BLT is on the menu for tonight. Time to slice.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Bird bubbler

I shouldn’t have stopped by Lowe’s last weekend, but I had a sudden urge to buy another birdbath. I have one out front, and two more on the lower level of the back yard, but I can’t see any of them from my favorite chair on the back porch, which is a higher elevation than the rest of the garden. And I spend most of my time in that chair (lazy gardener). I wanted a birdbath with a bubbler since moving water attracts more birds. Lowe’s just happened to have this one at half-price, $27.49. I couldn’t pass that up.

This small terrace is the view from my chair. Now I don't have to crane my neck to see birds drinking.

These are my customers. Their feeder is about 3 feet away from the birdbath. Sometimes it takes birds awhile to get used to something new in their environment. I watched and I waited.

Finally, here he came!

Moving water apparently attracts the neighbor’s cat too.

A couple of days later, the hibiscus bloomed again. Three blooms at a time is about as good as it gets, and makes a nice frame for the birdbath fountain.

Aren’t they exotic? I think they’re a nice complement to the pink flamingo of my previous post.

While my daughter was visiting, we waited and waited for the Stargazer lilies to bloom, but they decided to open the day after she went home.

And this photo is for my darling daughter, who just lost her 10-year-old Manx cat. If there’s a heaven for cats, it must be a garden. And Hades, despite his name, is free to roam in it forever.